Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 83.37
Liaison Ruairi O'Mahony
Submission Date Feb. 11, 2022

STARS v2.2

University of Massachusetts Lowell
IN-47: Innovation A

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.50 / 0.50 Ruairi O'Mahony
Executive Director
Rist Institute for Sustainability and Energy
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
University of Massachusetts Lowell - Rooftop Urban Agriculture

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

UMass Lowell’s Office of Sustainability has developed an innovative urban agriculture program in partnership with Mill City Grows, a local food justice non-profit organization. This community partnership is unique in that it provides education to both the university and to residents of the City of Lowell about food production and sustainability. The program provides an innovative, hands-on learning environment for campus and community members to come together on issues related to urban food production and sustainability. Community engagement focused on food access and environmental justice is particularly important in Lowell. Many neighborhoods in surrounding areas of the campus and across the city are classified as low income and struggle with food security by the United States Department of Agriculture.

The Urban Agriculture Program operates around three primary growing sites on campus. The Rist Urban Agriculture Greenhouse and Farm features an 1800 square foot greenhouse among annual growing fields located on UMass Lowell’s East Campus. Formally an East Campus parking lot, the site serves as a testing ground where university researchers and students are paired with community members to develop new and efficient ways to use water, energy, and technology to grow sustainable crops year-round. Produce from this site is sold and donated back to the local community through Mill City Grows programs, while fresh food donations are provided to the UMass Lowell student food pantry.

UMass Lowell operates two rooftop gardens in addition to the Rist Urban Agriculture Greenhouse and Farm. At University Crossing, UMass Lowell’s student administration building, the Rist Green Roof is on display year-round to the campus community and visitors. The Rist Green Roof is a 500 square foot rooftop garden which features about 180 individual planters and a drip irrigation system. The O’Leary Rooftop Farm is located on the university’s South Campus and features an expansive vegetable garden atop of the 2300 square foot rooftop outfitted with the same technology as the Rist Green Roof across campus. The rooftop gardens are harvested multiple times per week during the growing season and a portion of the fresh produce is distributed to the UMass Lowell Farm Share CSA program in addition to Mill City Grows community program. The campus rooftop gardens are an extension of the collaboration with Mill City Grows in that the produce harvested from the rooftop gardens feeds members of the UMass Lowell community and the City of Lowell, with a primary focus on individuals facing food insecurity. The UMass Lowell Urban Agriculture Program aligns with Mill City Grows mission of equal opportunity and access to fresh, locally grown, nourishing food.

Rooftop Urban Agriculture is unique to Lowell and UMass Lowell. Recycled materials are used throughout including old turf from UMass Lowell's athletic fields, recycled milk crates, and compost derived from UMass Lowell's dining operations. It is a high-visible, high-impact of UMass Lowell's outward looking sustainability program with a focus on the campus and community addressing issues and opportunities in a collective and coordinated manner.

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :

The website URL where information about the innovation is available :
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

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